Threatening and racist social media posts targeting students of colour in a Minnesota school district were revealed to be a hoax, KSTP reports.
Superintendent of White Beak Lake Area Schools Wayne Kazmierczak said that a student confessed to sending messages on a fake Instagram account they created.
Kazmierczak assured that the student sending the messages "posed no threat to our student of color."
Messages from the student led to White Bear Lake High School South Campus students walking out in protest.
"This is something we're used to handling, so most of us handle it well, but we're tired. We're done. This is it. This is our last straw," said senior Ashanti Cox in reference to the racist messages sent to a group chat she was added to.
Shocking messages were sent to the group by the anonymous user, including messages warning students to "watch their back" and to "get hanged. Die. Kill yourself," KSTP reported.
"I'm still in shock. I know racism is still a thing, but I didn't know people would take it to this extent. This is way too far. This is honestly just ridiculous. I feel hurt, I'm irritated, I'm angry, I'm uneasy. I just want to cry. I want to scream," Senior Jessica Kabwe said, who was also added to the chat.
A statement was given by Kazmierczak in response to the messages at a school board meeting Monday night, touching on the "great pain" the messages had caused students.
"In recent days our students, staff and community have been working through strong emotions brought forth by racist, hateful and threatening messages that were sent anonymously to several of our students of color. Our students have felt anger and disgust, and they have taken action in the face of the injustice against their fellow students. At the onset, we are committed to disrupting racism and systemic racism. Hate has no place in our schools or community," said Kazmierczak.
"Over the last week, we have worked with the FBI and local law enforcement, who investigated the racist, hateful, and threatening messages that were sent to several of our students of color from an anonymous Instagram account. The messages have caused great pain to our students and caused a material and substantial disruption in our school,"
He said that although the motive behind the student's actions is unknown, the use of hateful language is unacceptable in any case.
"This afternoon, a young person took responsibility for posting hateful messages on social media. While we are working to learn more about the motives behind this action, we understand that race is at the center of this incident and any use of hateful language against another student is unacceptable and won't be tolerated. Our anger around racist acts and bullying remain critical to our work as parents, educators and community," he continues.
Kazmierczak assured that the school would continue to support students and the community in their work towards recital equity and inclusion.
"We are united in supporting our students in speaking against racism and in support of our students of color over these past few days and will continue to work toward ensuring that White Bear Lake Area Schools is a community that advances racial equity and inclusion," Kazmierczak added. "We know from listening to our students that our continued and sustained commitment to educational equity is a critical part of how we achieve our stated district mission and close gaps that currently exist in our student outcome measures."